Students At Home

For Everyone who Learns at Home

Breaking a Finger Sucking Habit

on November 8, 2012

My daughter has sucked her fingers since we was a baby. During her first year, every picture shows her with her fingers in her mouth. I accept part of the blame because I didn’t want to use a pacifier. I did change my mind after two months, but she wasn’t interested despite the variety I tried shoving in her mouth.

Her teeth now show the effects of her habit. At the dentist yesterday, the hygienist mentioned that a partial spacer helped her 8-year-old son stop sucking his fingers. I scheduled an othodontist consultation for next year–the earliest we can get an appointment–but the habit needs to stop before then.

In the past, we’ve tried to help her stop. Gloves, punishment, pulling her fingers out of her mouth, pepper. As a mom, I knew the only effective habit breaker would be for her to decide to stop. Because she wants a straighter smile, she recently decided to give up her finger sucking habit. She’s doing a great job keeping her hands occupied, and I’m really proud of her.

This lesson makes me think of how we educate our kids. We can preach facts, review spelling words and push phonics until we’re blue in the face. If the child doesn’t want to learn, the lessons go in one ear and out the other.

I’ve found more success when I tie an important lesson to an interest my child has. My son loves matchbox cars so we place them in rows and count them during math class. My daughter enjoys reading books about girls her age so she read Katie Kazoo and American Girl Doll books for Language Arts.

All kids won’t eagerly embrace every lesson they need to learn.  Give them a motivation to learn, though, and they’ll surprise you with their ability to master the material quickly. Have you noticed that with your kids? Have you figured out what makes them want to learn?

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5 responses to “Breaking a Finger Sucking Habit

  1. I stopped sucking my thumb aged 11. My mother wanted to straighten my teeth with braces so we went to the Orthodontist. He gave me a bit of a lecture about how nice it would be to have straight teeth and then gave me a babyish chart with gold and silver stickers to stick on it for the times I didn’t suck my thumb. I went home, cried my eyes out with grief, as a ‘goodbye’ to something I loved and never sucked my thumb again. Got the braces and straight teeth. I distinctly remembered that I wasn’t going to fill in any stupid charts and give myself stickers or not if I failed. I felt this was beneath my dignity. I realized that I wanted nice teeth and that the time had come, therefore, to stop this wonderfully self-soothing habit. I also remembered seeing a neighbour, an adult woman, when I was younger who sucked her thumb and I remember thinking how awful it looked and that I didn’t, ultimately, want to be an adult thumb sucker, so it had to end eventually. The very best of luck to your daughter and yes, these changes have to come from the individual. Learning has to be understood as either a valuable thing or a fun thing. I’m not always sure when this is and isn’t the case or why with my kids but I look out for it all the time!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Penny! I appreciate your story. You are a very determined woman, and that character trait has been evident since you were a child.

      Your children are blessed to have you for their mom. You are a gifted teacher, and they’ll flourish under your care!

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